By Skip Via
Clark’s Nutcrackers are year-round residents of the high country of the Rocky Mountains, often seen above treeline. But for some reason—either because their alpine food sources are scarce or because they found an abundance of pine seeds here in the valley, a flock of more than a dozen decided to briefly invade my yard this morning.
Clark’s Nutcrackers are jay-sized and are sometimes mistaken for gray jays because, like the jays, they are not shy about hanging around campsites and stealing morsels from the campers. They have large pointed bills and black wings with prominent white patches. Their bodies are gray. They eat seeds are are known to create caches of seeds as a winter food source.
Before this morning, the only places I’ve seen Clarks’ Nutcrackers are in the mountains—so it was a surprise and a treat to see them in my backyard. They moved along the grass and garden areas under our ponderosa pines and were clearly finding plenty to eat. After about 20 minutes, they packed up and left en masse.
Here are a few photos, taken from my deck directly into the early morning sun, so not of the best quality. In the first photo you can see a nutcracker with a seed in his beak.